Surviving the Challenges of Retrenchment in the Family

Surviving the Challenges of Retrenchment in the Family


by Focus on the Family

Whether you’ve been laid-off, fired, downsized, outsized or right-sized doesn’t really matter. If you’ve been forced out of a position without a new one in sight, the road you’re travelling is likely full of speed bumps, potholes and detours. You might be struggling with feelings of worry, insecurity and stress.

While the emotional stress of undergoing a situation like this may be very real, here are some practical suggestions to help you cope in this turbulent season:

  • Think ahead to where you’d like to be in one year, three years or five years. Can you imagine yourself in a better position than the one you were forced to leave?
  • Find a support system. Ask your former employer about employment counselling, check in your community for support groups or just meet with a good friend who’ll level with you even in the toughest times.
  • Put your most positive spin on the change. View this time as a chance to grow, an opportunity for new adventures in your current career. Maybe it’s even a good time for a complete career change.
  • Reach out beyond yourself. Volunteer a few hours a week at a local charity. You’ll feel better doing something good for others, and you’ll realise that your life could be worse.

Understandably, unemployment can devastate entire families too. Families suffer the financial and emotional consequences as the search for a job may go on for months or years. Be honest with yourself and your spouse about your emotions. Avoid pretending that you’re not angry or depressed, and resist putting on a good front. Honesty allows you to sort through your feelings. Some might be worth embracing while others won’t. Try keeping a journal of your rollercoaster-like emotions. Learn to show appreciation to your spouse who will be the one who supports you through this difficult time.

It is good to let your children know what you are going through but don’t allow your children to feel unnecessarily burdened by your unemployment. Family life can go on. Instead of putting life on hold, learn to live more simply. Your family can have just as much fun for less money. A little creativity can keep life normal for your children.

Take this as an opportunity to reflect and reassess your strengths, and even brush up on certain skills to prepare yourself for your next job. It may also be a good time to re-evaluate your family priorities and set new goals together. For many working parents, the daily grind might have stolen the joy out of family life. Having more time at home now will allow you to reconnect with your spouse and savour the fleeting moments of your children’s growing up years.

Ultimately, keep matters in perspective and maintain a positive attitude. As you look around, you’ll see far greater hardships than the loss of a job. Focus on the loved ones around you and you’ll realise how much you have to be grateful for. On many days, thoughts of thankfulness for what you have will keep you going.

Copyright © 2016. Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd.

Facing unemployment or know someone experiencing retrenchment? Our team of counsellors are committed to journeying with you through this difficult season. Find out more about our counselling services today. 


The Lighter Side of Innumeracy

The Lighter Side of Innumeracy

Scanning a QR Code may still work!
Scanning a QR Code may still work! From: Scott Stratten’s “QR Codes Kill Kittens

Most of us may not admit it, but we’ve all fallen victim to the lure of innumeracy—the mathematical equivalent of illiteracy—consciously or unconsciously. Here are twenty of my favorite innumerate events I often witness among my numerate and semi-numerate friends, colleagues, and relatives.

• Taking a 45-minute train journey to save a few dollars at Carrefour or Walmart.

• Lining up for hours (or even days, if you’re in China?) to buy an iPhone or iPad.

• Paying a numerologist or geomancy crank to divine your “lucky” and “unlucky” days.

The Largest Four-Digit Number
What is the smallest and the largest four-digit number?

• Visiting a feng-shui master to offer advice how best to arrange your furniture at home, or in your office, to ward off negative or “unwanted energies.”

• Buying similar items in bulk at discounted prices, which you don’t need but because they’re cheap.

• Offering foods to idols [aka gods and goddesses] in the hope that they’ll bring you good luck and prosperity in return.

• Offering gifts to hungry [angry?] ghosts to appease them lest they come back to harm you and your loved ones.

• Buying insurance policies against alien abduction, meteorites, biological warfare, or the enslavement of the apocalyptic Beast.

• Filling up lucky draw vouchers, by providing your personal particulars for future pests-marketeers and time-sharing consultants.

The Hello Kitty Syndrome in Singapore
The Hello Kitty Syndrome in Singapore—Purchase of no more than four sets per customer will start past midnight!

• Betting on horses, football, stocks, and the like—any get-rich activities that may cut short a 30-year working life, slaving for your mean or half-ethical bosses 9-to-6 every day.

• Buying lottery tickets to short-circuiting hard work, or to retiring prematurely.

• Going on annual pilgrimages to seeking blessing from some deities, prophets, saints, or animal spirits.

• Outsourcing your thinking to self-help gurus or motivational coaches.

• Going for prices that end in 99 cents, or acquiring auctioned items that are priced at $88 or $888—the number 8 is deemed auspicious among superstitious Chinese.

Always give more than 100%!
An NIE motto to innumerate undergrads: “Always give more than 100%!”

• Replying to spam mails from conmen and “widows” from Nigeria, Russia, or China, who are exceedingly generous to transfer half of their inherited money to your bank account.

• Taking a half-day leave from work, or faking sickness to visit the doctor, to line up for hours to buy McDonald Hello Kitties.

• Lining up overnight to buy the latest model of a game console, or to secure an apartment unit of a newly built condominium. 

• Enrolling for courses that cost over a thousand bucks to learn “Effective Study Habits of Highly Successful Students.”

• Postponing all important meetings, or avoiding air traveling, on a Friday the thirteenth

• Canceling all major business dealings, weddings, or product launches during the Ghost(or SeventhMonth.

Now is your turn to share with the mathematical brethren at least half a dozen of your pet innumerate activities—those numerical idiocies or idiosyncrasies— that you (or your loved ones) were indulged in at some not-too-distant point in the past.

“I will make sure my Parents will complain You to MOE so that you can Lose YOUR Job!”

“I will make sure my Parents will complain You to MOE so that you can Lose YOUR Job!”


With all the recent news articles between parents and teachers, it is easy to see how taking care of our children are no longer as before.

A reader has written in to share her side of the story with me and I have requested for her permission to share with our readers – with the condition that her name is not shared.

This reader is currently a Secondary school teacher who teachers Science.

“As a teacher, I always believe that it has always been my responsibility to ensure that a child learns and the responsibility falls on them to complete any given bite-sized assignments in the lesson. I always ensure that when assignment is given for completion during the lesson, it must be done. It doesn’t matter if I help to relieve a class or if it’s my own class – my belief is the same. So far, I have met with no troubles… until this particular class.

When A Class of Students Think that They are Really Smart…

It was considered the best class in the whole of level 2 academically. It was obvious that they themselves believe that they are extremely intelligent as well.  Notice I only used one word “academically”…I didn’t mention for any other traits. Why do I mention that?

One particular incident came to mind: The class had assumed “Obama” was the NAME of “Mr Barack Obama” and had argued with teachers. They only kept quiet when it was Googled that it was otherwise and later claimed that they were really testing the teachers. Where was the humility?


As the school’s population was small, we had the luxury of banding the classes. So this class was split into two and were taught by two teachers separately. Whenever one of us is away, the other had to take over. That week, the teacher was away on a course and so I took over for both sides. Thus, this means I had little contact with this half of the class.

The Incident

After I went through the lessons and it was their turn to complete the assignments, some students from this batch started talking. Perhaps it was the period just before recess and they were getting tired. I approached the talkative ones ( especially 1 girl and 1 boy) individually but they were only quiet for a while. The assignments were not getting done by these two students.

Frustrated, I mentioned that only after you completed your assignment – then you are allowed to leave for recess. This comment was made 10 minutes BEFORE the commencement of recess. (For the record, I was planning to keep them back for 5 minutes at most. My principal even allowed this practice. I know hunger. Everyone knows hunger.)

Some parents may be thinking to themselves,” This teacher must have been yelling at them.” Sorry to surprise you but no. My tone was even, composed but firm. Did I lay any hand on them or make them go through corporal punishment? Sorry to disappoint but no.

This elicited the biggest responses from the ones WHO WERE TALKING EARLIER! While the rest got down to it and completed the assignments, the ones who were talking earlier realised that they were at the biggest disadvantage.

So what did they do?

Did they get down to it? Did they hustle?


They whined. They yelled.


One girl said “I will complain about you to my parents so that they will complain to MOE so they can fire you!” 

Think that this sentence is really folklore? Think this happens in good schools? Nope, this is an average neighbourhood school.

I was shocked. The boy (who TOP the class last year) started sprouting how schools’ timings are really demeaning to the whole educational system and that “studies have shown” that students should not start school before 8 am and such. By this time, it was only 9.45am in the morning. Therefore, he would not do any assignments.

When I held on to my beliefs that all assignments should be done, he grabbed his bag and walked out to go for recess.

Though these students apologised to me later, it served as a huge disappointment to me. It gives me the impression that for all these years before they entered secondary 2, they must have watched or seemed their parents handling similar situations as such.

Are we too quick to jump in to threaten to talk to the teachers in front of our kids? Are we setting the wrong example?

Our kids learn every example or step we take.

Just recently, I found out my niece was doing the exact same thing except not to teachers but to her friends. She threatened her friends that her mother would ‘raise hell’ for anyone who bad mouthed her again!

Why are we not teaching them how to handle such situations?

If you were me, what would you have done?

Thank you for this outlet. I really needed to say something.”

I like to thank this contributor for her story. It is very insightful indeed.

As an educator or parent, do you have any stories, thoughts or even comments that you like to share? If you do, feel free to email at or drop me a message at

App Review – PSLE Science

App Review – PSLE Science

app review
Name of App: PSLE Science

Levels: Primary 3 to 6

Cost: Free (Add-in purchases)

Type: Drill and Practice

IMG_0798This app was last updated 27 April 2016 so it is pretty new. This app is interesting that it serves a wide variety of topics in a drill and practices mode. It provides badges as an incentive for certain accurate scores.

So far the design is pretty neat and simple. The colours do not clash and are easy on the eye. However, my main grouse is that the fonts can be a bit way too small and there is a lot of empty space that is not effectively utilised by the developer. The questions are MCQs IMG_0793with 2 options. There is a little butterfly at the side which flutters its wings overtime you select the correct answer. An explanation shows up after each question to explain the answer before.

The topics offered here are many. Most topics can be accessed and they are not categorised by level. Some topics are locked and you need to pay a small sum of $0.99 for each topic or #5.99 to access all of them. It has a ‘Quick Tip’ section which is really a extremely summarised version of notes. In fact, it can be too brief that it may not provide not provide much information to the student.


This app serves more like an extremely quick revision aid before an examination. While it provides basic revision notes, it does not have open-ended questions which may be the bane of many students.

If you want to purchase it, you can click here.




Gross Singapore Math

Gross Singapore Math

by KC Yan


© S. Mockus, & T. Millard, (2010)

Estimation (or guesstimation as it is more commonly known in the U.S.) is a creative mathematical activity that is seldom given enough curriculum attention and time in Singapore. For the lay public, and probably for a disturbingly large proportion of local math teachers, tutors, and parents, estimation is often confused with approximation (or rounding off numbers).

Like swimming, cycling, and driving, estimating ought to be a life skill that is indispensable for all responsible citizens aiming to be numerate in our quantitative world of bloated data.

A PSLE Estimation Routine

In this year Singapore’s PSLE (grade 6) math paper, a routine guesstimation MCQ question has irked some parents, who “blamed” the Ministry of Education for posing an “unfair” question.

Ghostly Math from @MathPlus

How to Fermi-ize

Current Singapore math textbooks are often too Puritan, not to say, boring, to contain fertile exercises that could hone students’ estimation skills. A dose of humor, without insulting or shocking the readers, will go some way in nurturing some Fermi disciples. Let’s look at eleven non-drill-and-kill guesstimation questions, which could be posed to above-average math students bored by school math.

0. Zero Toilet Paper 

If all the toilet paper used in Singapore in an entire year were rolled out, how far would it stretch?

1. The Trillionth Heartbeat

Assuming an average human heart of 72 beats per minute, estimate that most folks would breathe their last breath around their billionth heartbeat, or by their near-666 weeks of life on this side of eternity.

2. Pools of Eyeballs

About how many Olympic-sized swimming pools would all the world’s human eyeballs fill?

3. Death Nailed by Tobacco Sticks

© Chua Sin Yew

A medical association claims that a cigarette smoker shortens the length of his life by 9 minutes for each cigarette smoked. A student smokes three-quarters of a pack of 20 cigarettes every day for 30 years. Excluding leap years, by how many months or years has this student cut short his life to?

4. To Pee or Not to Pee

How much urine is in a typical public swimming pool? Or, how much pee in a pool would kill you?

5. Length of Intestine

If you were to pull your small intestine out and laid it in a straight line, how long would that be? Is it shorter than the distance from Earth to Moon?

6. A Nation of Vampires—Human Blood Aplenty
If you were to take all the human blood from all the living people in Singapore and pour it into the Singapore Indoor Stadium, how deep would it be?

© Mark Parisi

7. Zoo Poo

Estimate how much zoo poo is collected every week at the Singapore Zoological Gardens. How much of it could be used as fertilizers?

8. The Host with the Most

How many (unfriendly and not-s0-friendly) bacteria are living on and inside you right now?

9. Cash in on the Trash

Show that, on average, every square mile of sea on the planet contains 46,000 pieces of rubbish. How much cash could be generated annually by an entrepreneur involved in the trash business? [1 mile is about 8/5 kilometers.]

10. Green Pollution

© Sidney Harris

Thanks to Indonesia’s mostly incompetent politicians and corrupt businessmen, its neighbors Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, have unhealthily been affected by the annual haze visiting them, as a result of illegal forest burning by local farmers to save costs for their bosses.

Guesstimate the number of people inside and outside Indonesia, who have been affected in the last two decades from this man-made pollution. How many natives, Mohammedans, and “infidels” will die prematurely because of near-zero political will from oft-corrupt Indonesian politicians?

Estimation Skills via Gross, Illegal, or Murderous Math

Be it via “Gross Math,” “Murderous Math,” or “Illicit Math,” creative or fertile questions on the “shit,” “death,” or “illegal” business, could be posed to enhance students’ guesstimating skills.
Indeed, gross Singapore math could serve as a catalyst to imparting real-life estimation skills to students, and to reducing more complaints from kiasuSingapore parents, whose children will be sitting for the PSLE oft-dreaded math paper in coming years.
Selected Answers

2. About 73 swimming pools.

5. About 18 miles long.
8. About 2,000,000,000,000,000 bacteria.